Americans Utilize Coastal Areas

In 2010, it is estimated that:

  • More than 70 million Americans will visit beaches
  • Nearly 60 million Americans will swim in coastal areas
  • More than 21 million Americans will view or photograph scenery in coastal areas

Coastal Populations:

  • Over 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the coast
  • Between 1980-2003, population in coastal counties increased by 33 million people or 28%
  • The largest gain in coastal population was seen in the Pacific region
  • In 2003, 23 of the 25 most densely populated counties were in coastal areas
  • The United States shoreline measures 95,471 statute miles
  • The national exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the largest in the world – more than 4 million square miles

Oceans have a tremendous impact on the nation’s economy:

  • One out of six jobs in the U.S. is marine-related
  • Industries include: fishing & boating, tourism & recreation, ocean transport
  • Ocean trade contributes over $700 billion yearly to the U.S. gross domestic product
  • U.S. maritime transport carries 95% of the nation’s foreign trade
  • Ships move 2 billion tons of freight in and out of U.S. ports
  • Ocean trade employs 13 million Americans
  • Coastal & marine waters support more than 28 million jobs
  • Coastal areas are tourist destinations for 189 million Americans annually
  • U.S. consumers spend $55 billion-plus for fishery products every year12


  1. National Ocean Economics Program. State of the U.S. Ocean and Coastal Economies., ONLINE. 2009. Available: [7 May 2010]. []
  2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Projected Participation in Marine Recreation: 2005 & 2010, National Survey on Recreation and the Environment 2000., ONLINE. 2005. Available: [7 May 2010]. []